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Butte: FM Translator Window for AM Is a Necessity

Changes must be made to ensure band’s continued feasibility and relevance

Butte Broadcasting Co., Inc. has added its voice to the AM revitalization debate. The company licenses Paradise, Calif.-based KKXX(AM) and South Oroville, Calif.-licensed KYIX(FM), as well as rebroadcasts its AM signal on a third-party-owned FM translator.

The company’s counsel Nathan J. Hardy recently filed comments on behalf of Butte and also submitted a supporting statement from Andrew Palmquist, the general manager of Butte’s KKXX(AM). Palmquist cites his “practical knowledge” of the issue and offers his take on ways the FCC could address the “issues that face AM broadcasters in small markets that reach rural populations.”

Of primary importance in the response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Hardy writes that the FCC should first limit applicants to the FCC translator filing window to “the most desperate stations.” Specifically, the opportunity should be extended to “daytime-only and fulltime stations with nighttime power of 10 kW or less,” as well as AM stations with a previously acquired permit or license and stations leasing translators. Butte suggests a second, separate filing window for the other AM stations.

The comments and Palmquist’s statement go on to offer other ways to bolster AM broadcasting’s feasibility.

Palmquist says that in order to ensure his station’s continued relevance and enable it to compete in its market, the commission should change the regulations so that “AM stations with limited nighttime service like KKXX must be able to operate with at least a minimum 150 watts at night; see the elimination of the ratchet rule; reduce protected contours by setting the maximum interference-free contour to 150 miles; allow FM translators rebroadcasting AM stations to penetrate buildings by operating with more than 250 watts; and see the elimination of 25-mile radius restriction for FM translators so as to better duplicate the current service of the AM station.”

Watch our page for summaries of other comments to the FCC NPRM.